Kentucky Basketball Previews Florida

Ulis Video

Kentucky Men's Basketball
UK-Florida Pregame Quotes
Joe Craft Center - Lexington, Ky.
Feb. 29, 2016


John Calipari


On what he can do or say to help the team’s confidence …
“Well, this is probably a week early for me, but we tweaked a few things. Scary word. So we tweaked a few things and it’s not a wholesale change from what we do, but you Basketball Bennies will have an idea of what I did. Most of you in this room have no idea what I tweaked, but the people who really follow it and study it will say, ‘Wel,l this is what he just did.’ “

On if the changes include when Derek Willis is in the lineup or for when he isn’t …
“It’s not in the lineup. He won’t be Tuesday. Let’s hope that he can play Saturday, but he’s not playing Tuesday. What I’m doing is something that’s going to help us whether Derek’s there or not. It’s something I probably should’ve done a long time ago, but you kind of get blinded. You start winning games and guys are doing certain things and other guys are not so you just leave it alone. But we’ll see.”

On if he’s sandbagging because two years ago he said he should’ve tweaked things sooner …
“No. I’m saying the same thing. These guys that we have, in most cases – what I said on the (SEC coaches’ teleconference) call – I’m not the kind of guy that says, ‘OK, we’re going to run a bunch of plays for this kind of score.’ We didn’t run plays for Karl (Towns). We didn’t run plays for Julius (Randle) or any guys. We play basketball, we create actions and then you’ve got to insert yourself. We’re an unselfish team. It’s not like guys are selfish, but we’re creating space for you to go do what you do. So with these guys we’re just, like I said, it’s not just our bigs. There are some other things we’re going to tweak to get some other guys a little more confident in what they’re doing.”

On if he’s been considering this tweak or if it came up on Sunday …
“A friend of mine had called me before and said, ‘You know you need to think about doing da da da da da.’ I listened, but I didn’t listen.  And then the last game you start looking at guys and guys have got to play more confident. And it isn’t what you say to a guy. ‘Well, you yell at them.’ What? OK. I yell at Jamal (Murray) – he really lacks confidence. It’s how you’re playing. Demonstrated performance builds your confidence. So if they’re struggling to insert themselves, you’ve got to help them and say, ‘This is how you do this. Within what we’re doing, let’s think about this.’ That’s what tweaking is. ‘OK, guys, here’s how we’re playing. Let’s focus a little bit more on this. Or let’s focus more on this.’ It’s too late to change how we play, but there’s no reason that we can’t have a confident basketball team. That’s what we should have.”

On if the tweak is a mental reboot for guys …
“Some of it is mental, but the other part is you’re changing how they think about playing. You’re changing the mentality of how they’re doing this. That gets them, especially the guys that need it. But I’m anxious to go see. Last time we had time, if you remember, I had three or four games before and we did it over time and I said you’re going to see. This is yesterday, we walked some stuff and then today we’re going to practice. We only have an hour and a half or less. We’re off Wednesday so we’ll have Thursday, Friday. It’s the beginnings of it. You know, it’s like anything else. The guys, we just need to go out, play defense, which in the second half against Vandy we had so many slipups, so much slippage in the game. And then offensively just be confident in what you’re doing. We just can’t play through one and two guys. You can’t in a game a guy gets going just let him go. But you can’t every game. That’s not how I coach and it’s not how you win at the highest level.”

On guards involving the bigs more …
“Again, when you throw it to them they fumble. You try to get it to them and they miss. You want to win. So now it’s like, ‘Look, I’m shooting it and you go rebound it.’ I mean, you want to win, so we have to – they have to build the guards’ confidence in them. And again, it’s through demonstrative performance. It’s not saying, ‘I’ll do this and this and I’ll do that.’ You’ve gotta go do it in the game. The great thing about this team is they’re all cheering for each other. They want the other guys to do well. I mean if a guy gets it going they’re really happy.”

On who can be the complement to Ulis and Murray …
“All of them. Every one of them. Marcus Lee. Alex (Poythress). Derek has proven it when he was healthy. Isaac (Humphries) can do it. Skal (Labissiere) can do it. They can all do it. ‘Where do I insert myself? How do I make myself available?’ Some of it is you just have to work harder. That one is – they don’t want to hear that one. ‘What else can I do?’ You’ve gotta make yourself more available. You’ve gotta beat the other guy to spots. How about this? Outrun the guy. Sprint. I mean, that’s stuff that you know, again, that’s part of tweaking – to get them to think different.”  

On the defensive lapses in the second half vs. Vanderbilt …
“We just had some – like, we gave them layups and dunks. Like, there were four of them, five of them. We just don’t do that. When you give up – that’s five for five. And we’re a defensive team. We’re a team that holds you to 40 percent or less. In the second half, you know, aside from all of that, if Tyler makes a couple of shots – he missed them all. Just make a couple and it’s a different ballgame. We have our chances. And we had our chance with that being the case. Layups and one-footers and a missed 3, missed 3 and a missed 3. Oh my gosh! And you still have a chance and they weren’t scoring either. Those four or five dunk-layup-layup that was the gap in the game.”

On playing at Florida …
“Yeah, it is going to be loud. It will be packed. It’s going to be a game that’s going to be a hard game for us. I’m, again, just trying to focus on my team. I know how good they are. I know how good they are in that building. It’s just I’m focused on my team. Let’s just try to get better. Let’s get this thing – we gotta build a couple more guys out of this. You gotta go into tournament play. And if you think of us historically, we never went into tournament play with one or two guys playing well. We go into tournament play with five and six guys playing well. And then you’re hoping seven gets in and does something too. We’ve gotta get to that and we have time. Again, working on that earlier than normal, but let’s see if we can begin that process, that climb to get our team like that.”

On if he wants Isaiah Briscoe taking jump shots …
“Yeah. We just have to – again, there are things we can do to help him too, and we will.” 

On if playing Tai Wynyard is still an option …
“Not at this point. I would say no. No. We’ve seen our big guys play pretty well and then we’ve seen them struggling. It’s almost like, OK, how do we get this more consistent? How do you build your mentality? You all know that comes from within. If you’re relying on someone else to do that for you, what if he’s not feeling good that day? The guy you’re counting on to pick you up? I mean, you gotta do that yourself. You gotta get yourself in a frame of mind – and then if it doesn’t go well. Look, Alex did not walk. You saw it. He did not walk, and he didn’t trip the guy. It was like two ridiculous calls. But, that kind of caved him in. You can’t be that way. Relax. We’ve had it all year. All year we’ve had that. So? Just play. So, we’re trying to talk to him about that. He can’t let a call or a play cave you in. Just play through it. At this point, we’re just trying to see – the question becomes how good can we be? We know if we don’t have everybody playing confident we’re not going to be very good. So the question becomes how good can this team be? Now, we’ve got this week and next week and the tournament to get this thing to where we are steering up. You know, playing on the road’s not a good place to try and do it. The road in our league is the toughest place to win, of any conference in the country on the road in this league. But, it’s our next game, so let’s go.”

UK Student-Athletes


#3, Tyler Ulis, Guard


On if he suspected he would have an off day at Vanderbilt …
“No, I didn’t suspect it, but it happened and I just have to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Stay in the gym and keep playing.”

On if he was worn down against Vanderbilt …
“No, I was fine. My legs were good. I just had an off-shooting night. I wish I would have shot the ball better, maybe it would have been a different type of game. But it happens.”

On if it was a contributing factor not having Derek Willis on the court to spread the defense …
“That’s a big part of our team, but we’ve played without him and we’ve played well. So we can’t blame it on that. It’s just a fact – honestly, I feel like if I shot the ball a lot better, we would have been able to win that game, been in a better position to win or something. Without Derek, it is hard to space the floor, but hopefully he gets back soon.”

On if there’s more pressure on him to not have an off night …
“No, not really. It doesn’t really bother me.”

On what he remembers about Florida from the first game …
“I’ve played Florida for the last two years, so I know a lot about them. I know their guards. Guys like (Dorian) Finney-Smith can shoot the ball, stretch the floor for them, something Derek did for us. We just have to make sure we come ready to play.”

On what he says to the struggling forwards on the team …
“Just try to pump them up to fight and just play hard. Everything is not going to go right all the time with the fouls. They got a couple of fouls early in the game and they had to sit. But offensively we need them to insert themselves and rebound for us. But I feel like they’re going to do their jobs. Once everybody does it, we’re going to be pretty good.”

On Vanderbilt 7-foot forward Damian Jones guarding him …
“I noticed they were switching and I wanted to get the switch so I could take him off the dribble, but I wasn’t finishing shots. Everything wasn’t falling, so they did a good job switching.”

On if he likes when a big guy guards him …
“Yeah, that creates a mismatch. Either post it or go by the big man. I tried to space the floor and get by him, but nothing would fall.”

On what they want Isaiah Briscoe to do when he gets open …
“I want him to shoot it. I tell him, ‘You catch it, shoot the ball.’ He’s here for a reason. He used to score the ball a lot in high school, so he can make those shots. He just has to think he can make it. He keeps shooting they’re going to fall.”

On his missed layup at Vanderbilt …
“I just went to shoot the layup and it didn’t go in like everything else in the game. Something I usually make didn’t go in, and that’s one of the main reasons we didn’t come up with the win.”

On if Saturday’s loss was harder on him than other losses …
“Yeah, it was pretty hard on me because of the way I played, but I’m over it now. I gotta move on to the next game.”

On if games against these bubble teams feel like NCAA Tournament games …
“Yeah, they’re always tournament games because everybody wants to come out and beat us. We have to prepare like it is and just go out there and refuse to lose; just try to play as hard as we can for 40 minutes.”

On Vanderbilt 7-foot forward Damian Jones guarding him …
“I noticed they were switching and I wanted to get the switch so I could take him off the dribble, but I wasn’t finishing shots. Everything wasn’t falling, so they did a good job switching.”

On if he likes when a big guy guards him …
“Yeah, that creates a mismatch, either post it or go by the big man. I tried to space the floor and get by him, but nothing would fall.”

On what they want Isaiah Briscoe to do when he gets open …
“I want him to shoot it. I tell him, ‘You catch it, shoot the ball.’ He’s here for a reason. He used to score the ball a lot in high school, so he can make those shots, he just has to think he can make it. He keeps shooting they’re going to fall.”